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How can I install Windows Server 2003 on my server?

As a Microsoft Windows Server support professional, one of your tasks may be to install
the operating system.

Update: Get step-by-step instructions on how to install Windows Server 2008 here.

Step #1: Plan your installation

When you run the Windows Server 2003 Setup program, you must provide information
about how to install and configure the operating system. Thorough planning can make
your installation of Windows Server 2003 more efficient by helping you to avoid
potential problems during installation. An understanding of the configuration options will
also help to ensure that you have properly configured your system.

I won't go into that part right now (I might later this month, no promises...) but here are
some of the most important things you should take into consideration when planning for
your Windows Server 2003 installation:

• Check System Requirements

• Check Hardware and Software Compatibility
• Determine Disk Partitioning Options
• Choose the Appropriate File System: FAT, FAT32, NTFS
• Decide on a Workgroup or Domain Installation
• Complete a Pre-Installation Checklist

After you made sure you can go on, start the installation process.

Step #2: Beginning the installation process

You can install Windows Server 2003 in several methods - all are valid and good, it all
depends upon your needs and your limitations.

For example, you can install directly from a CD by booting your computer with the CD,
or you can also copy the I386 folder from a CD and run the setup process by going into
the I386 folder and using the WINNT or WINNT32 command (depending upon your
existing operating system).

It doesn't matter how you run the setup process, but the moment it runs - all setup
methods look alike.

Step #3: The text-based portion of the Setup program

The setup process begins loading a blue-looking text screen (not GUI). In that phase you
will be asked to accept the EULA and choose a partition on which to install 2003, and if
that partition is new, you'll be asked to format it by using either FAT, FAT32 or NTFS.

1. Start the computer from the CD.

1. You can press F6 if you need to install additional SCSI adapters or other mass-
storage devices. If you do you will be asked to supply a floppy disk with the
drivers and you CANNOT browse it (or a CD for that matter). Make sure you
have one handy.

1. If you want, you can press F2 to run the ASR sequence. For that you need a good
backup created by the Windows Server 2003 backup program, and the ASR
floppy disk. If you plan to install a new copy of 2003 - don't do anything.

1. Setup will load all the needed files and drivers.

1. Select To Setup Windows Server 2003 Now. If you want, and if you have a
previous installation of the OS, you can try to fix it by pressing R. If not, just
press ENTER.

1. Read and accept the licensing agreement and press F8 if you accept it.
1. Select or create the partition on which you will install Windows Server 2003.
Depending upon your existing disk configuration choose one of the following:

• If the hard disk is unpartitioned, you can create and size the partition on which
you will install Windows Server 2003.

• If the hard disk is already partitioned, but has enough unpartitioned disk space,
you can create an additional partition in the unpartitioned space.
• If the hard disk already has a partition that is large enough, you can install
Windows Server 2003 on that partition. If the partition has an existing operating
system, you will overwrite that operating system if you accept the default
installation path. However, files other than the operating system files, such as
program files and data files, will not be overwritten.
• If the hard disk has an existing partition, you can delete it to create more
unpartitioned space for the new partition. Deleting an existing partition erases all
data on that partition.

If you select a new partition during Setup, create and size only the partition on which you
will install Windows Server 2003. After installation, use Disk Management to partition
the remaining space on the hard disk.

1. Select a file system for the installation partition. After you create the partition on
which you will install Windows Server 2003, you can use Setup to select the file
system with which to format the partition. Windows Server 2003 supports the
NTFS file system in addition to the file allocation table (FAT) and FAT32 file
systems. Windows Server 2003, Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000, and
Windows NT are the only Microsoft operating systems that you can use to gain
access to data on a local hard disk that is formatted with NTFS. If you plan to gain
access to files that are on a local Windows Server 2003 partition with the
Microsoft Windows 95 or Windows 98 operating systems, you should format the
partition with a FAT or FAT32 file system. We will use NTFS.

1. Setup will then begin copying necessary files from the installation point (CD,
local I386 or network share).
2. Note: If you began the installation process from an MS-DOS floppy, make sure
you have and run SMARTDRV from the floppy, otherwise the copying process
will probably last more than an hour, perhaps even more. With SMARTDRV (or
if setup was run by booting from CD) the copying will probably last a few
minutes, no more than 5 max.

1. The computer will restart in graphical mode, and the installation will continue.

Step #4: The GUI-based portion of the Setup program

The setup process reboots and loads a GUI mode phase.

It will then begin to load device drivers based upon what it finds on your computer. You
don't need to do anything at this stage.

1. Click Customize to change regional settings, if necessary.

• Current System Locale - Affects how programs display dates, times, currency,
and numbers. Choose the locale that matches your location, for example, French
• Current Keyboard Layout - Accommodates the special characters and symbols
used in different languages. Your keyboard layout determines which characters
appear when you press keys on the keyboard.

If you don't need to make any changes just press Next.

If you do need to make changes press Customize and add your System Locale etc.

Note for Hebrew users: Unlike W2K, it is SAFE and it is OK for you to install Hebrew
language support at this phase.

To install Hebrew support:

After pressing Customize go to the Languages tab and select the "Install files for complex
script and right-to-left languages".

A warning message will appear. Press Ok.

Warning: You must now press Apply!!!

Setup will copy the necessary files from the installation point.

You can now go to the Regional Options tab and select Israel in the Location drop-down
list, and Hebrew in the Standards and Formats drop-down list. Click Ok.

Note: Read the Install Hebrew on Windows Server 2003 page for more info.

1. Type your name and organization.

1. Type the product key.

1. Enter the appropriate license type and number of purchased licenses.

1. Type the computer name and a password for the local Administrator account. The
local Administrator account resides in the SAM of the computer, not in Active
Directory. If you will be installing in a domain, you need either a pre-assigned
computer name for which a domain account has been created, or the right to
create a computer account within the domain.

1. If you enter a password that is blank or does not match the required complexity
settings you will get a warning message.

1. Select the date, time, and time zone settings.

1. Setup will now install the networking components.

After a few seconds you will receive the Networking Settings window. BTW, if you have
a NIC that is not in the HCL (see the What's the HCL? page) and Windows Server 2003
cannot detect it, or if you don't have a NIC at all, setup will skip this step and you will
immediately go to the final phase of the setup process.
Press Next to accept the Typical settings option if you have one of the following

• You have a functional DHCP on your network.

• You have a computer running Internet Connection Sharing (ICS).
• You're in a workgroup environment and do not plan to have any other servers or
Active Directory at all, and all other workgroup members are configured in the
same manner.

Otherwise select Custom Settings and press Next to customize your network settings.

1. Highlight the TCP/IP selection and press Properties.

In the General tab enter the required information. You must specify the IP address of the
computer, and if you don't know what the Subnet Mask entry should be - you can simply
place your mouse pointer over the empty area in the Subnet Mask box and click it. The
OS will automatically select the value it thinks is good for the IP address you provided.

If you don't know what these values mean, or if you don't know what to write in them,
press cancel and select the Typical Settings option. You can easily change these values

1. In the Workgroup or Domain window enter the name of your workgroup or


• A workgroup is a small group of computers on a network that enables users to

work together and does not support centralized administration.
• A domain is a logical grouping of computers on a network that has a central
security database for storing security information. Centralized security and
administration are important for computers in a domain because they enable an
administrator to easily manage computers that are geographically distant from
each other. A domain is administered as a unit with common rules and
procedures. Each domain has a unique name, and each computer within a domain
has a unique name.

If you're a stand-alone computer, or if you don't know what to enter, or if you don't have
the sufficient rights to join a domain - leave the default entry selected and press Next.

If you want to join a domain (NT 4.0 domain of W2K/2003 Active Directory domain)
enter the domain's name in the "Yes, make this computer a member of the following
domain" box.

To successfully join a domain you need the following:

• The person performing the installation must have a user account in Active
Directory. This account does not need to be the domain Administrator account.


• The computer must have an existing computer account in the Active Directory
database of the domain that the computer is joining, and the computer must be
named exactly as its domain account is named.


• The person performing the installation must have appropriate permission to create
a domain account for the computer during installation.

Also, you need to have connectivity to the domain's domain controllers (only to the PDC
if on an NT 4.0 domain) and a fully functional DNS server (only in AD domains). Read
the Joining a Domain in Windows XP Pro and Requirements when Joining a Domain
pages for more on this issue.

Enter the Active Directory domain name (in the form of xxx.yyy, for example:
DPETRI.NET) or the NetBIOS name of the NT 4.0 domain (in the form of xxx, for
example: DPETRI). Press Next.
Note: If you provide a wrong domain name or do not have the correct connectivity to the
domain's DNS server you will get an error message.

A username/password window will appear. Enter the name and password of the domain's
administrator (or your own if you're the administrator on the target domain).

Note: Providing a wrong username or password will cause this phase to fail.

1. Next the setup process will finish copying files and configuring the setup. You do
not need to do anything.

1. After the copying and configuring phase is finished, if Windows Server 2003
finds that you have a badly configured screen resolution it will advise you to
change it and ask you if you see the new settings right.

BTW, the minimum supported screen resolution in 2003 is 800X600.

1. Setup finishes and boots Windows Server 2003.

1. That's it! you're done!